This is not another "what's the best baby blanket?" page. In case you didn't know, pages like that are paid advertising and it can cost $1000 or more to be included. As a non-profit, that's not an option for us.
We're Sheep Dreamzzz Baby Blankets and we'll tell you how we stack up at the very end of this post, but in the main part we're just going to objectively present things you might want to consider. We're parents and grandparents and know there are many options out there and that what works for one person may not work for another.
This list is in no particular order. It's up to you to decide which matter to you and which are the important ones. We'll give you some things to think about in each area.
Do you, the mom, or the baby have a preference for cotton? Does anyone have an aversion to synthetics like acrylic, polyester, and nylon. Any chance of allergies?
Tip: 100% cotton blankets, especially knitted ones, are not soft and will not keep their shape. Sometimes the synthetics are the softest things out there. The softest yarns we've worked have a bit of nylon in them (10-50%).
|Organic||Some people only want organic. As with most things organic, this will probably add to the cost, and most organic blankets require special care. Just throwing the blanket into the washer and dryer might not work, and if mom wants that ability an organic blanket might be too much of a pain. But for people committed to organic-only, there's usually no negotiating!|
|Care||Continuing on the last point, make sure you check this out. Unless there's an overriding reason to do otherwise, buy a blanket that's easy to care for, meaning it can go into the washer and into the dryer, even if that means low or no heat.|
|Fairtrade, or Fair Trade||This has to do with things like helping people, livable wages, working conditions, and the environment. Great to check out - just be aware that companies pay thousands to receive and maintain this and some outfits do just as much good or more without shelling out for the Fair Trade labeling.|
Best to focus on this area separate from Fair Trade and see if the blanket has a story of helping someone in need.
At the lowest level here you'll find companies that donate 10% to charity. But there are also some that are non-profit and give jobs to people in need so they can take care of their families. A story like that can be pretty impactful.
We love things that are Made in the USA, but there are an awful lot of people outside of the US who need work to feed their families. But how does your purchase actually help them? If it's a factory worker in China there's probably little direct benefit.
Do you care if your baby blanket was made in a factory on an assembly line? If it was, you might think about what the work experience is like for the workers, who probably make very little money.
In factories things are made with machines. When it comes to baby blankets, almost all of them are cut from a roll of fabric, then some kind of border (often satin polyester) is sewn on before final labeling.
There are some fully handmade options, such as knitting and crochet. They take longer and will definitely cost more than your off-the-shelf blanket from China on the shelf at Target.
It can be hard to tell quality from a web site. For one thing you're looking at a carefully staged, obviously perfect blanket that almost certainly isn't the one that will be shipped to you.
It helps to know something about the people making the blankets. Are they faceless factory workers or perhaps skilled artisans who pay close attention to every detail?
You really don't want to give something that will be duplicated by someone else. That's a good reason to think about all the criteria in this list and not just grab a baby blanket off the shelf in a store.
|Customization||Some blankets can be customized with embroidery (baby name, birth date, etc.). Often a custom note can be included. And it might even be possible to change the design or size of the blanket.|
|Packaging||Is the blanket nicely packaged and ready to give? Are there optional boxes, and what do they cost?|
Product cost + add-ons + shipping
We all get it.
We see reviews everywhere. Are they recent? Can you tell if they are for the actual product they're attached to? Sometimes they are not, even on Amazon.
|Will it Last?||
Hopefully you give a blanket that won't have to be replaced in 6 months. This gets to things like materials and stitching and an overall commitment to quality.
We hope this list has been at least a little bit helpful. Here's what we have to say for ourselves in each area:
Materials and How Made
All Sheep Dreamzzz blankets are hand-knit from yarn that we source from top yarn companies and take to Nicaragua for the creation of our baby blankets. Until recently we've always had cotton or wool in our blankets, but we've recently added acrylic & nylon blankets that are incredibly soft. Nothing cut from a factory-printed fabric roll.
Rosa, our oldest knitter, carefully knits a cotton-based Sheep Dreamzzz blanket ($70)
Here's a $99 blanket from Little Giraffe, all-synthetic and cut from a fabric roll as described above.
Our current organic blankets are 45% organic cotton, 45% organic wool, and 10% nylon. They are extremely lightweight and very soft. The yarn has been discontinued by Berroco so once those blankets sell, we may not have another organic option until we find another suitable yarn.
All of our blankets except organic are machine-washable, and almost all of those can be placed in the dryer on low heat. Each blanket ships with care information. As much as possible we look for yarns that yield a blanket that is easy to care for.
Sheep Dreamzzz has not pursued the Fair Trade label/brand. We believe that we go way beyond what would be required but we just don't want to pay the money. Plain and simple.
Want to hear a story? One well-known ethical/fair trade outfit was interested in our blankets but told us they normally expect 60-80% profit margins when they sell something. While they don't claim to be not-for-profit as we are, they certainly could be "helping" a lot more than they are.
Sheep Dreamzzz blankets are made by women trained to knit as part of our non-profit work in Nicaragua. We believe the best way to help people is to enable them to help themselves through work. They know best what their family needs.
Sheep Dreamzzz knitters come to our farm gate at 8AM each weekday morning to knit.
The ladies work in a clean, comfortable environment. Hardly a factory setting!
We also help our knitters from time to time with medical and food needs, but handouts are not our primary method and are not something we want to do very often.
Our blankets come from Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America. They're not from China, the source of most store-bought baby blankets.
Rather than coming from a factory, Sheep Dreamzzz blankets are knitted in the living room of the small house we built in a small rural town in Nicaragua. Our 10-15 knitters sit in comfortable chairs with overhead fans blowing, listening to music if they want to. They walk or ride their bikes to our front gate every weekday morning and knit for 3-1/2 hours before returning home to prepare the mid-day meal for their families.
Each of our knitters has made 30-75 or more blankets. They are expert artisans. We taught them how to knit but they surpassed our skill level long ago. Even so, their work is inspected all along the way in Nicaragua, and again before final packaging in our home in the US.
We think that when you add all of this up - both the physical product and where it comes from and how it helps women in need- a Sheep Dreamzzz baby blanket is quite a unique gift.
Our blankets don't change much other than in color and yarn type, but we do offer the addition of a satin border and an embroidered name. We've even made pattern changes and blanket size changes a few times. We are happy to entertain any request.
A customer wanted a knitted blanket that matched the appearance of one that used to be in the family.
Cruz Celina holds up an fern green organic blanket that someone wanted twice the normal size.
Every Sheep Dreamzzz blanket arrives ready to give. Each comes in a clear cellophane pouch with a silky ribbon tied around it, but there are also boxes available.
Everything is going up in price and we think we are competitive. But rest assured that if you pay more than you would for a factory-made blanket, there is a difference in quality but most of all that all of the "profit" went to the woman who made your blanket.
We've been doing this for 4 years now and have yet to get a review that was not 5 stars. That speaks for itself.
Will It Last?
Knitted items can snag since it's not hard to grab onto the individual pieces of yarn in the blanket. Nobody has ever commented about this but a factory cut piece of acrylic with a polyester border sewn around it will be a bit more "bullet-proof" if that is a primary concern.